WORCESTER, Mass. — Officially, Andy Miele’s goal at 5:53 of the third period proved to be the difference because it broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Portland Pirates a 3-2 victory Sunday over the Worcester Sharks
Unofficially, the goal that really jumped off the proverbial stat sheet was the one scored by Brendan Shinnimin early in the first.
Matt Tennyson wasted little time in giving the Sharks a 1-0 lead when he scored on the power play goal just 1:23 into the first period.
But Portland needed a mere 13 seconds to tie it when Shinnimin one-timed from the slot a pass from Jordan Szwarz.
“We can handle giving up a goal,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said. “We can manage that. But to come right back, it really gives you the momentum back.
“For Brendan to come back and score a nice goal in that slot area gives the bench a good feeling and you’re feeling better about yourself.”
Shinnimin, for his part, realized that falling behind so early after the opening faceoff was far from the ideal way to start a game.
“They scored that power-play goal and we needed to respond as quickly as possible,” Shinnimin said. “We got some offensive zone time down there right after (Tennyson’s goal). Jordan Szwarz made a great to pass to me in the slot and I got it away pretty quickly.
“Obviously, it was a huge goal. It put momentum back in our favor.”
In retrospect, momentum has been in the Pirates’ favor for a couple of weeks.
Not only did they exit The DCU Center with a season-high five-game winning streak but over their last 11 games, they’ve earned 16 of a possible 22 points.
“This group understands the way we want them to play to be successful,” Edwards said. “There’s a total commitment to defending. We’re getting good efforts from most players on every night. When you have everybody pulling on the same rope, you find a way to win games.
“From our goaltender out, we’re getting good efforts. There’s a buy-in to the type of hockey we have to play to be successful.”
The Sharks retook the lead at 11:47 of the first period when James Sheppard deflected a centering pass by Chad Johnson (22 saves). But the Pirates tied it at 2:11 of the second on the power play when Brandon Gormley deflected in a cross-ice pass from Alexandre Bolduc.
Miele’s goal came after he stuffed a rebound past Harri Saleri (29 saves), who had blocked two shots.
“As of late, we’ve been playing pretty good hockey,” Shinnimin said. “Throughout the year we’ve been down by goals a lot but we’ve come back in the third to win. That’s something that, being a young team, we find that extra push by having fresh, young legs out there to get the job done.
“It was a great weekend in all to get six points.”